Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

School districts feeling the crunch

The state’s budget problems, which are caused to some degree by the economic slowdown, aren’t just problems for the state. They’re local problems as well, and the entities that have been hardest hit are those that had been given short shrift by the state long before the economy went into a nose dive. I’m referring to school districts, which are feeling all kinds of pain right now, and which have even bleaker short term forecasts.

[B]y far, school districts have reported taking a much harder hit from the economic downturn than have municipalities. For instance, Cy-Fair is predicting a $10 million shortfall in its 2010-11 budget. School authorities say their fiscal problems are exacerbated by funding limits and state regulations.

“Every district has a complaint on the way their funding is figured. It all boils down to that we’re not getting enough from the state,” said Robert Robertson, spokesman for Klein ISD.

Texas schools get their income from allotments paid by the state for each student as well as property taxes that the district levies.

Despite increasing expenses, state funding has been frozen at the level that districts received three years ago — with the only exception being a small shot of stimulus money that was dedicated mostly to teacher raises and programs to help disadvantaged students.

At the same time, lawmakers have capped the property tax rate that districts can levy to cover their operating expenses at $1.04 per $100 valuation. It can be raised by an additional 13 cents, but only if approved by voters in a special tax election.

You know, I’m thinking there’s an opportunity for a Democratic candidate for Governor to win some votes in these suburban, Republican-leaning parts of the state by promising to work hard to find real solutions to these problems. Some of that may include saying words or phrases that might be considered no-nos in Texas elections, and that’s a scary thing to do. But it should be clear to most folks what kind of path we’re on right now, and it should be clear to most folks that without a change in the Governor’s mansion, that path isn’t going to change, either. Certainly, unless someone makes the case for doing things differently, we’ll keep on doing what we’ve been doing.

Related Posts:

Comments are closed.